Substitute Library Fines with Food

Patrons of one local library are finding it easier to pay for their late fees.  Throughout the month of October the Electra library is allowing members to pay their hefty fines, with food.

Last year they raised more than 600 pounds of food and that was their first year, this year they hope to beat that and they only have until the end of the week to drop off the canned goods.  Next week the library will weigh the food boxes and donate it all to a local shelter.

"Tuna, we have canned salmon, sardines, peanut butter, lots of macaroni & cheese," said Electra's Head Librarian, Terry Holbert.

That's not exactly what you'd expect to find inside a library, but in October Electra is living by the motto, "Don't give us money, give us food."

"We think that $1, per item of non-perishable food could stand for $1 off your fine," said Holbert.

It's an idea Holbert came up with herself.

"Buying the cans is a little cheaper than paying the fines, so everyone's a winner in this
arrangement," she said.

Last year the library raised more than 600 pounds of food, this year they estimate between
300 & 500 food items are in these boxes placed there by about 50 local residents who kept their book a little longer than they were supposed too.  The library is benefiting an organization called the HELP House.
 
"That would provide food for us to fill Thanksgiving & Christmas baskets plus to provide food
on an on-going bases for the clients as they come in," said Mary Jane Clark, a volunteer.

The canned goods will help fill up the bare shelves that line the walls and feed needy, hungry residents.  Holbert hopes in this time of great giving people don't forget a lesson learned.

"Everyone needs to remember the food pantries, not just at holiday time, people still like to eat
in January and February."

Next year librarian Terry Holbert hopes to create a challenge to see what local library can raise the most amount of food.

Mary Jane Clark says the HELP House gave out 65 Thanksgiving baskets and 90 Christmas baskets last year.  It's all thanks to the food donations received.